February 3, 2013 at 8:31 AM
A few years back, we would have found Coleen Caulfied in a room full of books. But her job has evolved from school librarian to media specialist, her books now sharing space with ebooks, apps and the web.
On Friday morning, the media center at Harrison Elementary School was a bit like Grand Central Station, as Caulfied likes to describe the scene, with search engines and databases, and students learning to think, learning how to research, learning to evaluate as ethical users of information.
“It is certainly a wonderful place to come and read and enrich your life in literature,” she said, “but it’s also an exciting place for technology, with lots of resources to help students to think.”
But it’s also crowded, with not enough space for computers for every student to learn in this rapidly changing digital world.
“Right now I have computers on carts that the children use, and it can bring some problems with it when computers have to go to room to room, rather than one designated area,” said Principal Cindy Healy. “The library has some computers in there, but not enough for a whole classroom.”
School Vote March 12 could provide the flexible space to bring the Harrison media center, and other aging centers at Riker Hill and Collins, into the 21st Century. “We really believe that the children in today’s day and age need to have access to this equipment all the time,” Healy said.
But it’s not just the media centers that need improvements. The elementary schools themselves need room to grow. In Grades K-2, 34 percent – 1/3 – of all classrooms right now are at or above guidelines set by the state of New Jersey.
To make room now and for the future, voters in Livingston are being asked to approve additions to the elementary schools. The old media centers would be converted to classroom space. At Burnet Hill and Hillside, where media centers have already been updated, plans call for new classrooms. The total gain is 14 new classrooms and three media centers.
The referendum would offer more flexibility to ease soft borders, decrease class size, provide space for additional special education programs, and make room for new students who move into town.
There are opportunities to learn more about the referendum and the $18.2 million earmarked for this facility project.
Community forums with presentations and Q&A will be 11 a.m. February 13 at the Livingston Public Schools Administrative Office, 11 Foxcroft Drive; and 7:30 p.m. February 26 at Riker Hill Elementary School, 31 Blackstone Drive.